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Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition: Religion and Conflict in the Tudor Reformations
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2012
This is far from being Duffy's best book, rather it offers a short explanation (and justification) of his views on historical revisionism (and why he and others have started to swim against the tide of reformation historiography), an essay which proves to be informative and helpful. Otherwise some of the essays read as précis of or essays from his main (best and most famous) works `The Stripping of the Altars' or `Voices of Morebath'. Not least because the essays focus on particular areas of Church and national life, e.g. Rood Screens and the reformation experience of one local parish Church, something he has done already very well elsewhere - it seem would seem, therefore that there is not much that is new in this volume. That said, his argument that Protestant England begins at the end of Elizabeth's reign (rather than her reign serving as the apogee of English Protestantism) is a new and compelling one.

The sad thing is that Duffy doesn't really develop the arguments put forward in `Stripping of the Altars': that far from being moribund, the pre-reformation Church was vibrant and culturally engaged and that the reformation itself was a period of crisis for the Church, ripped from the comfort of the past and forced to radically alter its doctrines and liturgy. That said, Duffy is a very readable historian and he presents his arguments very well. He does, however, show how anti-Catholic historiography can still be found in English academia and in filmography (e.g. in Shekhar Kapur's `Elizabeth' - a film that, he argues not unreasonably, presents Catholicism as repressive and the final days of the rule of Mary, quasi-demonic). This is important to note, as it shows how much England remains a Protestant nation (albeit and increasingly Secular-Protestant one)) and the historiography of the reformation, still a Protestant one, led by historians such as MacCulloch (a secular-Anglican and former Deacon in the Church of England).

On a personal level, what I find particularly interesting in this volume, is his linking of the closure of the Chantries with the need of the King for cash, though he does not develop this argument further to explore the inflation the stripping and selling of ecclesiastical paraphernalia would have created. This is an argument, however, already explored in his other works and touched on, only briefly in this book.

If I were to be asked to recommend a good book on the reformation I would automatically point them to `The Stripping of the Altars', it is by far the best and most readable book in its field, if polemical and counter-cultural in its argument. This on the other-hand, isn't - it's for the diehard Duffy fan (there are no new arguments here). I would only recommend this book to those who have read and enjoyed Duffy's other books and are looking for more of the same.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2012
Professor Duffy has added more nuances to his views and treatment of the Reformation and its aftermath, including attitudes to Catholicism during the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, which are not quite what one would expect, and certainly not monolithic. His chapter on Bishop Fisher I found especially interesting.
However I did wonder whether he was barking up the wrong tree altogether in the last chapter on Catholicism in Shakespeare's England: the argument hinges on the famous lines from Sonnet 73, where Professor Duffy takes 'bare ruin'd quiers' to mean literally monastic ruins. Surely this is an image of the tree in autumn, 'where late the sweet birds sang' i.e. they have now migrated for the winter, not necessarily an extension of the choir image. I think it's stretching things to rely on one word ('late')to clinch an argument about late Elizabethan attitudes to the destruction of the monasteries.

On the other hand I may just be very pedestrian!

Read it and see what you think.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a scholarly book but a good read, giving an insight into effects that the establishment of the Church of England, with backup force ready to 'help' those unwilling to change from their former, Catholic, religion, had on Tudor and then Stuart society in the 16th and 17th centuries.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2013
This review applies to all the Eamon Duffy books I have read.He does not shrink from being controversial and when he is, he provides cogent evidence to support his argument.Not a revisionist historian but an historian who demonstrates that revision in historical assumptions is necessary
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2012
The essays collected in this volume are consistently interesting, grounded in good research, and open out new vistas on the period. But the book is littered with scores of typos, spelling mistakes, and misquotations. Evidently no one bothered to copy-edit or proof-read it. Shame!
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on 24 April 2015
An excellent and well researched study of England at the time of Henry V111.
Good easy reading and a very enlightening book.
Highly reccomend to those who wish to find out what happened in England in the time of Henry & Elizabeth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2014
Eamon Duffy successfully challenges the received wisdom concerning the religious transformations of the Tudor period.
History comes alive through the pen of Professor Duffy. I recommend this book to any who would wish to understand
the turbulence of this time.
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2013
This is a very bizarre book indeed - incredibly well researched and cross referenced, there’s almost a suspicion that this attention to detail is to compensate for the unfocused broader content. A largely unsubstantiated diatribe against the Reformation (history tends to be written by the winners, and Duffy is a Catholic), precedes a highly detailed review of changes over centuries to East Anglian churches and then, to my way of thinking, the highlight of the book, a discussion on Cardinal Fisher, Archbishop Cranmer and Cardinal Pole. But Duffy cannot control his own bias, such as on p142 referring to the Convulsio Calumniarum as “a brilliant and stupendously learned defence of the tradition of Peter’s ministry and martyrdom”, or to dismissing anything that doesn’t suit his argument, such as on p144 “The divorce question is much too complicated to go into here”; both comments may be correct, but where’s the substantiation behind them?
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2013
A very enlightening examination of the true state of religious thought in this country at the time of the Reformation.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2013
Husband currently deep into Saints, Sacrilege and Sedition. It was well-reviewed and evidently doesn't disappoint him. I look forward to hearing his comments, once he has read it.
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